Re­jected spouse blames self for breakup of mar­riage

The Covington News - - Religion -

When my wife left me for an­other man, I felt like the whole thing was my fault. I still feel that way. I had never even looked at an­other woman, yet here I am tak­ing the blame for her af­fair. Ra­tio­nally, I know I’m be­ing very un­fair to my­self, but I can’t help it. Or can I?

It is the typ­i­cal re­ac­tion of a re­jected spouse, like your­self, to take the full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the be­hav­ior of an un­faith­ful spouse. The wounded part­ner — the per­son who was clearly the vic­tim of the other’s ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity — is the one who suf­fers the great­est pangs of guilt and feel­ings of in­fe­ri­or­ity.

How strange that the one who tried to hold things to­gether in the face of ob­vi­ous re­jec­tion of­ten finds her­self won­der­ing, “How did I fail him? I just wasn’t woman enough to hold my man. I am “noth­ing” or he wouldn’t have left. If only I had been more ex­cit­ing as a sex­ual part­ner — I drove him to it — I wasn’t pretty enough. I didn’t de­serve him in the first place.”

The blame for mar­i­tal dis­in­te­gra­tion is sel­dom the fault of the hus­band or wife alone. It takes two to tango, as they say, and there is al­ways some mea­sure of shared blame for a di­vorce.

How­ever, when one mar­riage part­ner makes up his mind to be­have ir­re­spon­si­bly, to be­come in­volved ex­tra­mar­i­tally, or to run from his fam­ily com­mit­ments and obli­ga­tions, he usu­ally seeks to jus­tify his be­hav­ior by mag­ni­fy­ing the fail­ures of his spouse. “You didn’t meet my needs, so I had to sat­isfy them some­where else,” is the fa­mil­iar ac­cu­sa­tion. By in­creas­ing the guilt of his part­ner in this way, he re­duces his own cul­pa­bil­ity.

For a hus­band or wife with low self-es­teem, th­ese charges and re­crim­i­na­tions are ac­cepted and in­ter­nal­ized as in­dis­putable facts.

You must re­sist the temp­ta­tion to take all the blame. I’m not rec­om­mend­ing that you sit around hat­ing the mem­ory of your wife. Bit­ter­ness and re­sent­ment are emo­tional can­cers that rot us from within. How­ever, I would en­cour­age you to ex­am­ine the facts care­fully.

Ask your­self th­ese ques­tions: “De­spite my many mis­takes and fail­ures in my mar­riage, did I value my fam­ily and try to pre­serve it? Did my wife de­cide to de­stroy it and then seek jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for her ac­tions? Was I given a fair chance to re­solve the ar­eas of great­est ir­ri­ta­tion? Could I have held her even if I had made all the changes she wanted? Is it rea­son­able that I should hate my­self for this thing that has hap­pened?”

If you ex­am­ine ob­jec­tively what has occurred, you might be­gin to see your­self as a vic­tim of your wife’s ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity rather than a worth­less fail­ure at the game of love.

I’ve read that it is pos­si­ble to teach four-year-old chil­dren to read. Should I be work­ing on this with my child?

If a young­ster is par­tic­u­larly sharp and if he or she can learn to read without feel­ing un­due adult pres­sure, it would be ad­van­ta­geous to teach this skill. But that’s a much big­ger “if” than most peo­ple re­al­ize. There are some par­ents who find it dif­fi­cult to work with their chil­dren without show­ing frus­tra­tion over im­ma­tu­rity and dis­in­ter­est.

Fur­ther­more, new skills should be taught at the age when they are most needed. Why in­vest un­nec­es­sary ef­fort try­ing to teach a child to read when he has not yet learned to cross the street, tie his shoes, count to ten or an­swer the tele­phone? If seems fool­ish to get pan­icky over preschool read­ing.

The best pol­icy is to pro­vide your chil­dren with many in­ter­est­ing books and ma­te­ri­als, read to them ev­ery day, and an­swer their ques­tions. You can then in­tro­duce them to phon­ics and watch the lights go on. It’s fun if you don’t push too hard.

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